The world’s largest offshore wind developer reported better-than-expected results for 2019 due to a jump in its generation figures.

Ørsted's onshore and offshore wind earnings were up 30 percent compared to 2018, helped in no small part by the commissioning of the 1,218-megawatt Hornsea 1 offshore project in the U.K.

Operating profit (EBITDA) was up 17 percent for the year compared to 2018, rising to 17.5 billion Danish krone ($2.58 billion), compared to company guidance of DKK 16 billion to 17 billion.

The 2018 figures were bolstered somewhat by the divestment of a 50 percent stake in Hornsea 1.

Total installed renewable generation capacity increased to 9.9 gigawatts, 6.8 gigawatts of it offshore wind. Overall, the company has 14.8 gigawatts of offshore wind commissioned, under construction or awarded. 

Focus on the U.S. following Lincoln Clean Energy acquisition

“We reached significant milestones by winning two large-scale offshore projects in the U.S.,” CEO Henrik Poulsen said in a statement. “We were awarded 1,100 megawatts with our Ocean Wind project in New Jersey and 880 megawatts with our Sunrise Wind project in New York."

"With these awards, we have secured a U.S. offshore wind portfolio with a total capacity of 2.9 gigawatts to be completed toward 2024. In addition, we have up to 4.5 gigawatts of lease rights [in the U.S.],” Poulsen continued.

In “2019, we [arrived at] final investment decisions on a number of projects,” added Poulsen. “In Taiwan we decided to build the 900-megawatt offshore wind farm, Greater Changhua 1 and 2a."

In the U.S., the company pulled the trigger on investments into three onshore wind farms as well as the hybrid Permian Energy Center, which will pair 420 megawatts of solar with 40 megawatts of storage.

In late 2018, Ørsted acquired Lincoln Clean Energy, a leading onshore renewables developer in the U.S.

The company said “curtailments and various operational issues” had impacted offshore wind generation more than in a normal year. In late October the company triggered a decline in confidence in the offshore wind sector when it revealed it had been forced to address overly optimistic generation forecasts from its projects.

Ørsted warned that wake and blockage effects, created by the interaction of the wind with adjacent turbines and neighboring projects, had long been underestimated across the industry.

Despite an immediate dip in its share price following the announcement, the price had recovered to around DKK 625 ($92.10) within four weeks and has been trading above DKK 650 for most of 2020.

RWE and Ørsted were each fined £4.5 million ($5.9 million) at the beginning of 2020 for shortcomings linked to a major blackout in the U.K in the summer of 2018. A software issue with the then partially operational Hornsea 1 was part of a series of contributing factors that exacerbated the situation.

The share of green generation in the company’s mix rose from 75 to 86 percent in 2019 as it continues to shift away from coal and gas. It also divested from its LNG business at the end of last year.

Ørsted claims the company itself will be carbon-neutral by 2025, while its total footprint, incorporating its supply chain and energy trading, will follow in suit in 2040.